by Mrs. Clark
Born in an era when moms stayed home and dads were the sole breadwinners of the family, it was often difficult for my mom to find things to occupy me. You see, I was an only child and we lived in a neighborhood where there were no children close enough to my age for me to play with. There were no structured play groups, no “Mom and Me” kinds of activities, and no structured preschools. It was pretty much just mom and me while dad went off to work.
Luckily, my mother loved to read. She had a large collection of books from her unmarried days and she always found a little extra money to keep me supplied with Little Golden Books purchased for 29 cents at the grocery store. One of my favorites was The Little Red Caboose, by Marian Potter, since the trains that ran through town always had a red caboose signaling the end of the train.
Mom made reading fun. We would take a big quilt outside, lay it on the ground, and have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich picnic and we would read. Sometimes we would drape it over the outdoor clothesline and make a cozy tent and we would read. In cold or rainy weather, that same quilt would be draped over the dining table and become a cave and we would read. We would snuggle on the couch and we would read. Of course, there were times when I occupied myself with my dolls and other toys, but when my mom read to me, I had her full attention and she had mine. It was our special time together.
I doubt that Mom knew she was giving me the necessary skills I would need to learn to read when I entered school—an interest in books, a diverse vocabulary, an awareness of print on the page, a knowledge of letter names, an ear for syllables and rhymes, and a sense of order in telling/retelling stories. She just did what came naturally to her. My mom is no longer living, but if I am very quiet and I close my eyes, I can go back in time. I can hear her voice and I can smell her Evening in Paris perfume. I can remember playing with her wedding rings and I can remember snuggling on her lap.
Reading to your child at a very early age (right from birth!) builds the foundation of skills children need in order to be successful at learning to read when they enter school. But reading to your child at an early age also builds sweet memories that will last forever. Thanks, Mom.